15 October 2008

Blow for parents as NHS refuses to pay for son’s specialist walker

£1,800 equipment would have given disabled five-year-old a new lease of life, say couple
By Ryan Crighton

A north-east couple have been left “devastated” after NHS Grampian refused to fund a specialist walker which has given their disabled son a new lease of life.

Five-year-old Alfie Arthur, who is a pupil at Anna Ritchie School’s nursery in Peterhead, was diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy when he was just a few months old.

The Ardallie youngster is unable to speak, walk, stand, feed himself or do any of the daily tasks that others take for granted.

A section of his brain stopped developing in the womb and he was left with very low muscle tone and body control.

He also suffers from scoliosis of the spine, which means he has to wear a back brace to support and strengthen his spine.

His parents, Gary and Colette Arthur, of South Hawkhillock, found a ray of hope during the summer when Alfie stepped into a specialist walker for the first time – allowing him to strengthen the muscles in his legs and spine as well as giving him improved mobility.

It even helped him play football and splash in puddles with his sisters, Lauren, 11, and Georgia, 7.

However, NHS Grampian has told the family that it does not have the funds to pay for Alfie to get the £1,800 walker full-time, so the family have decided to raise the money for it themselves.

An NHS Grampian spokesman said last night new devices came on to the market all the time, and not all were proven to be clinically useful to patients.

He added: “We see hundreds of people in the course of a year and clearly need to be convinced that such equipment would benefit patients.”

Last night Mrs Arthur said the family were not angry at the decision by NHS Grampian, “because that won’t change it”.

“We as a family were devastated,” she said.

“We would happily trade in all his other equipment for this as he’s gained so much from it. So, we have decided to raise the money for it ourselves.

“However, at the same time as needing to raise money for a walker, Alfie is going to be moving up to a wheelchair which means that we also need to find funds for a deposit on a mobility car and for renovations to our home to accommodate a wheelchair. This is where our friends and family stepped in and offered to help and raise funds.

“As Alfie loves music so much, it was decided he would approve of a ceilidh – this then developed into a Burns night and ceilidh complete with guest speakers, pipes and Highland dancers.”

The Burns night and ceilidh is being held at the Station Hotel , Ellon, on Saturday, January 24.

For more information, to book tickets or to donate a raffle prize for the event, contact either Kirstie Moar on 01358 711324 or themoars@btinternet.com, or Mrs Arthur on 01358 711385.

Anyone who is unable to attend the event, but would still like to support the cause, can donate by debit or credit card at the website www.giftshare.com/alfie

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